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Flexible patch performs like a wearable Tricorder

It attaches to the wearer's chest and monitors vital signs, and could be used for athletes and patients with heart problems.

UC San Diego

A new device in development and described in the journal Nature Communications by researchers at UC San Diego could provide health information in real-time.

The flexible patch is designed to be worn on the chest to monitor electrocardiogram heart signals and levels of the biochemical lactate, which indicates activity levels. The information, which can be used to monitor current heart problems or detect unknown ones,can then be transmitted wirelessly to a smartphone, smart watch, tablet or PC.

It's still in prototype stages, but it already shows promise as a multi-purpose device. Most of the current health-monitoring wearables only track one thing, and almost none track chemical signatures.

The team tested it on three male subjects, who exercised while wearing it. The data collected by the patch was consistent with data collected by heart-rate wearables the subjects also wore, and previous studies on lactate production.